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New Route Chicago - Dubuque, Iowa


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#1 rtabern

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 04:18 AM

Living close to Chicago... I, like many, have probably heard the buzz about Amtrak finally restoring service on the route between Chicago and Dubuque, Iowa. I believe it was called The Black Hawk back in the day. Anyway, I didn't think restoration of service was really a "done deal"... however... I was surfing around the National Train Day website tonight and came across a thing when you click which other cities are having National Train Day events:

http://www.nationalt...m/events/other/

When you scroll down to Dubuque, Iowa it says, and I quote:

"Free admission to Train Day area and activities, including model train displays, educational displays and videos on railroad history and famous trains, and displays showing the new Amtrak route from Chicago to Dubuque, Ia. Lots of fun for the entire family. Join us for a Great Time!"

WOOOO! WAIT... The new Amtrak route from Chicago to Dubuque??

Again, I didn't know this was a done deal.

However, I know Amtrak's marketing people... especially here in the Midwest... are very ummm... how do I put this nicely... uhhh... "particular"... and I doubt they would have put this on the website in the way that was worded if this wasn't a done deal.

So I'm confused here!! Is it a new Amtrak route or not??

#2 Lake Country

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 08:40 AM

Living close to Chicago... I, like many, have probably heard the buzz about Amtrak finally restoring service on the route between Chicago and Dubuque, Iowa. I believe it was called The Black Hawk back in the day. Anyway, I didn't think restoration of service was really a "done deal"... however... I was surfing around the National Train Day website tonight and came across a thing when you click which other cities are having National Train Day events:

http://www.nationalt...m/events/other/

When you scroll down to Dubuque, Iowa it says, and I quote:

"Free admission to Train Day area and activities, including model train displays, educational displays and videos on railroad history and famous trains, and displays showing the new Amtrak route from Chicago to Dubuque, Ia. Lots of fun for the entire family. Join us for a Great Time!"

WOOOO! WAIT... The new Amtrak route from Chicago to Dubuque??

Again, I didn't know this was a done deal.

However, I know Amtrak's marketing people... especially here in the Midwest... are very ummm... how do I put this nicely... uhhh... "particular"... and I doubt they would have put this on the website in the way that was worded if this wasn't a done deal.

So I'm confused here!! Is it a new Amtrak route or not??


There has been a feasablility report here:
http://dot.state.il....Feasibility.pdf

And the Illinois Gov. Quinn has promised state funding, since the project did not get any Federal stimulus dollars. But Illinois has a $5 billion defecit so I don't know if this will make the cut.

Funding story;
http://www.rrstar.co...ce-rail-funding

#3 WICT106

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 09:42 AM

I'm sorry to dash your hopes, but I wouldn't get too excited. Unless you actually see the test train on the tracks, then assume that there will be no train -- just a "study" of future service.

Sorry. Just don't believe it until you actually see it. :(
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#4 Trogdor

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 11:50 AM

I'm sorry to dash your hopes, but I wouldn't get too excited. Unless you actually see the test train on the tracks, then assume that there will be no train -- just a "study" of future service.

Sorry. Just don't believe it until you actually see it. :(


A test train means nothing. Almost ten years ago, Amtrak ran a "test train" from Meridian, MS to Dallas or Fort Worth for the proposed Crescent Star route. See how far that got us.

I think they may have even run a test train (not entirely sure) on the Kentucky Cardinal from Louisville to Nashville.

One thing I can guarantee you, you won't be buying tickets for that train on May 10.
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#5 Eric S

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 01:41 PM

The State of Illinois recently committed funding for both the proposed Chicago-Dubuque ($60 mil) and Chicago-Quad Cities ($45 mil) trains, money from their recently-passed capital projects plan. However, I have not seen/read anything noting whether or not that level of funding is enough to actually get those trains running, or whether it will require additional funding.

#6 Eric S

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 02:34 PM

OK. It looks like IDOT's application for stimulus funds estimated that Chicago-Dubuque would cost $60 mil and that Chicago-Quad Cities-Iowa City would cost $62.9 mil. It does not appear that these amounts include any estimate for additional rolling stock, though. So, it appears as though Illinois has committed the funds to upgrade tracks, signals, etc for both Chicago-Dubuque and Chicago-Quad Cities routes (I'm assuming $45 mil is the Chicago-Quad Cities IL portion and the remainder [$62.9-$45] would be the Quad Cities-Iowa City IA portion).

Perhaps the Amfleets and Horizons currently used for the Hiawatha Service would be available for these routes once the WI-ordered Talgo sets are in use.

#7 John Bredin

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 08:08 PM

I'm sorry to dash your hopes, but I wouldn't get too excited. Unless you actually see the test train on the tracks, then assume that there will be no train -- just a "study" of future service.

Sorry. Just don't believe it until you actually see it. :(


I know Amtrak has a history of floating ideas for new routes and services that don't come to pass, but we are talking about Illinois, which doubled the number of state-sponsored trains on three routes in 2006. I wouldn't start making travel plans yet, but I wouldn't "assume that there will be no train" either.

As Eric S touched upon, there is money in the Illinois capital budget for the Chicago-Dubuque and Chicago-Quad Cities routes.

AMTRAK - Chicago to Quad Cities - $45 million. IDOT is providing $45 million in state capital funds to establish passenger rail service from Chicago to the Quad Cities. The new service will result in up to 825 new jobs, including 440 construction jobs.

AMTRAK - Chicago to Rockford - $60 million. IDOT is providing $60 million in state capital funds to establish passenger rail service from Chicago to Rockford. The new service could result in as many as 2,000 new jobs, including 650 construction jobs.


It is a bit disturbing that the budget refers to the Chicago-Dubuque route as a Chicago-Rockford service. Could the state be breaking up the project into stages, with Rockford-Dubuque service having to wait for an improved economy?

Of course, the inclusion in the budget doesn't mean the General Assembly couldn't delete it, but it seriously improves the odds compared with a scenario where the funds weren't in the budget and the Assembly would have to add them. As we saw at the Federal level before and after 2008, things are easier when the executive-branch budget drafters are on your side. :cool:

It does not appear that these amounts include any estimate for additional rolling stock, though.

The preapplications for federal funding for the Quad Cities and Dubuque routes included "rolling stock refurbishments," specifically $5.8 million for Quad Cities and $1.4 million for Dubuque.

#8 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 08:21 PM

However, I know Amtrak's marketing people... especially here in the Midwest... are very ummm... how do I put this nicely... uhhh... "particular"... and I doubt they would have put this on the website in the way that was worded if this wasn't a done deal.

Notice that the website also lists an event in Hawaii so actually having Amtrak service doesn't look like a requirement for an event.

#9 deathcabforchristina

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 10:56 AM

Anybodyy know what's come of this?

#10 afigg

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 11:37 AM

Anybodyy know what's come of this?

The funds for the Chicago to Quad Cities portion and the rolling stock purchase have been peeled off and obligated to the state of Illinois. That portion of the route is expected to start service in 2014, probably 2015. The extension to Iowa City remains in limbo. The Iowa legislature has not appropriated the state funds needed for state subsidy and, IIRC, the matching state contribution to the FY10 grant. Meanwhile the supporters of Iowa City service continue to argue for support. The short answer is that Iowa has not said yes, but they have not said no either.

There are other more recent threads than this one on the subject.

[edir: Oops, my bad! Dashed off a post with the wrong service in mind. Ignore the above.]

Edited by afigg, 31 July 2012 - 12:06 PM.


#11 deathcabforchristina

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 11:41 AM

I'm most interested in the Dubuque portion, I'm moving there end of this week :)

#12 Agent

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 11:47 AM


Anybodyy know what's come of this?

The funds for the Chicago to Quad Cities portion and the rolling stock purchase have been peeled off and obligated to the state of Illinois. That portion of the route is expected to start service in 2014, probably 2015. The extension to Iowa City remains in limbo. The Iowa legislature has not appropriated the state funds needed for state subsidy and, IIRC, the matching state contribution to the FY10 grant. Meanwhile the supporters of Iowa City service continue to argue for support. The short answer is that Iowa has not said yes, but they have not said no either.

There are other more recent threads than this one on the subject.


The Chicago to Quad Cities train is a different train. The Chicago to Dubuque train, the Black Hawk, is to the begin in 2014.



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